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307 words - May 17, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
The commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force Afghanistan, US Army Maj. Gen. Tony Thomas, speaking via video from Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, briefed reporters on the progress he's seen in Afghan forces, Special Operators (SOF) in particular, over the 11 months of his current deployment.
He explained that the Afghan special operations forces, which amount to approx 14,000 personnel, now conduct dozens of operations around their country every day. All of those units "have been exceedingly busy over this past year," Thomas said, "playing an integral role in the security of Afghanistan, especially the major population centers of Kabul and Kandahar."
Several months ago, the Afghan SOF came on the ground with NATO counterparts and dealt successfully with an hostage situation, Gen. Thomas told, meaning it was a case of most critical tactical situation. He also insisted on the improving coordination between Afghan and NATO/ISAF units, emphasizing that US and NATO SOF no longer conduct any operations in Afghanistan without including Afghan forces.
The Afghan SOF are globally "very competent tactical formations," Gen. Thomas said. "Our focus over this next year and a half is to enhance their higher operational-level capability, specifically intelligence-gathering and target development, as well as command and control and, very importantly, logistics," he concluded in a direct reference to the transition deadline of 2014.
His chief, Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) commander, showed similar confidence, considering that "we are making great strides in Afghanistan" and that pulling "together the three components of the special operations forces that were in Afghanistan under a single command," brought significant results.
Adm. McRaven agreed with Gen. Thomas' assessment, noting the Afghans' increasing role in military and security operations. "We don't do anything today that the Afghan’s aren’t on the lead on," he said.
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